The Weekend Warrior’s 2013 Summer Box Office Preview

This is it, the moment you’ve been waiting for! Our annual look at the summer movie season and all of the exciting things being released by the studios between May and August.

Those of you who have regularly been reading the Long Distance Box Offices probably have some idea of our thoughts on the summer already, but for those who’ve been waiting for the full-on overview, here’s one of the most comprehensive looks at the summer you’re going to read outside of Entertainment Weekly and we’re focused almost solely on box office. We’ve separated everything into convenient categories though we haven’t included every single movie because that would just be insanely ridiculous.

THE BIG BOYS

First we’re going to talk about some of what are likely to be the biggest movies of the summer, either being sequels to previous blockbuster summer movies or high buzz reboots of popular characters among moviegoers.

The summer kicks off this very week with Iron Man 3 (Marvel Studios/Disney – May 2), one of the most-anticipated sequels of the year, not just to Iron Man 2, but also the current box office champ Marvel’s The Avengers, which kicked off last summer with $207 million – quite unprecedented. It’s pretty obvious that Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark is what most moviegoers want to see and as far as the comic fans, seeing Iron Man face off against his greatest villain the Mandarin will be the key to why this should be the best of the three movies. Since we’re already covering this fairly thoroughly in this week’s Weekend Warrior, we won’t say much more, but its record-setting international opening is a very good sign indeed. This will win the summer with ease with $400 million or more.

Two weeks later, we get J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek Into Darkness (Paramount – May 15), the sequel to his reboot of the Gene Roddenberry franchise which opened with $79.2 million and grossed $257 million domestically and $385 million worldwide. The movie opens on Wednesday the 15th in IMAX theaters, which should be the first choice for many Trekkers and avid movie lovers, but then business should really pick up as fans of the original movie who don’t have an IMAX theater near them will rush out to see it on Friday and Saturday. We think this will be the second $100 million opener of the month, but it will also quickly tail off ’cause of the fanboy factor of everyone rushing out to see it with two more big sequels opening just a week later. It might only slightly surpass the domestic box office of the original.

Those two sequels opening over Memorial Day are the street racing movie Fast & Furious 6 (Universal – May 24), starring Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson and their gang, as well as The Hangover Part III (Warner Bros. – May 24), the finale to Todd Philips’ R-rated comedy franchise about the slightly smaller Wolf Pack of Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis, Ed Helms and Ken Jeong. The Fast & Furious gang are going to England to stop a heist, while the Wolf Pack returns to where it all began… Vegas, Baby!

That’s two big movies that we’ve already talked at length about their box office prospects in a recent Long Distance Box Office. While The Hangover Part II bested DreamWorks Animation’s Kung Fu Panda 2 over Memorial Day a couple years back, we think things are going to swing the other way and Fast & Furious 6 is going to beat The Hangover: Part III by a good $25 to 30 million over the four-day weekend, although there should be enough business for both of them to make this one of the biggest Memorial Days in a long time.

With so many big movies in May you’d think there isn’t much left for the rest of summer, but there are two more comic book superhero movies picking up where Iron Man 3 leaves off with the Zack Snyder Superman movie Man of Steel (Warner Bros. – June 14) expected to be an enormous blockbuster as it introduces British actor Henry Cavill as Clark Kent aka Superman.

Warner Bros. really needs to get this franchise right this time after Bryan Singer’s less-than-well-received Superman Returns, which still cracked $200 million but even moreso after the dud Green Lantern. Snyder may have one of the most Oscar-nominated casts in the history of superhero movies starting with Amy Adams as Lois Lane, Michael Shannon as General Zod, Kevin Costner and Diane Lane as Jonathan and Martha Kent and Russell Crowe as Superman’s birth father Jor-El. That’s a lot of quality actors, a much higher caliber than any movies outside of Christopher Nolan’s “Dark Knight” series, and there’s going to be a lot of excitement from Superman fans from young to old. We would be shocked if this one doesn’t open in the $90 million range and if it doesn’t keep bringing in business over the rest of the month of June and July on its way to $300 million or even more, although it has quite a bit of competition in the weeks that follow.

Hugh Jackman will give it another go for a solo movie starring Marvel’s The Wolverine (20th Century Fox – July 26). While some may still be skeptical of another solo movie after X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Hugh Jackman is a huge draw and this movie is loosely based on the popular Chris Claremont-Frank Miller mini-series that had Wolverine going to Japan to take on samurais and ninjas, ideas that have carried through the comics for decades since. It’s also directed by James Mangold, an incredibly talented filmmaker, responsible for the likes of 3:10 to Yuma, Walk the Line and the Tom Cruise-Cameron Diaz action movie Knight and Day. The previous movie kicked off the summer of 2009 with $85.5 million but wasn’t received that well by the fans. We think four years is enough to forgive any problems with it and the first trailers for this new one have looked absolutely epic. Opening in a rare weekend on its own, we think this one will open around the same range, maybe slightly less, but it will probably be as frontloaded as the rest especially having to take on two more action movies, Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg’s 2 Guns and 300: Rise of an Empire, in its second weekend.

NEXT UP IN PART 2: THREE ANIMATED SEQUELS AND TWO NEW CONCEPTS >>

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